Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mod Gone Wrong: Carnaby Gone Wrong

In the past, I've gotten down on Britpop, Mod revival, and Paul Weller. But today, I'm here to say that, yes, even in the 1960s, sometimes Mod went wrong.

Now, keep in mind, I absolutely LOVE the Carnaby Mod period! The colors, the patterns, the details... a time when men's fashion was really taking off. Unfortunately, not everything worked. Although there were many great ideas coming out of Carnaby Street and influencing designers around the world, there were also some major flops. Take The Beatstalkers, from Glasgow, for instance:

My guess is that these clothes were made quickly and then thrust onto the band for this promo shoot. Take a moment and absorb what's going on here. First off, some of the individual pieces are pretty nice and full of hip touches. I see a sharp floral cuff-linked shirt going on... a light blue shirt with monotoned cuffs and collar... a sharp roll-neck in dark blue... trousers with front pocket flaps...

It's too bad they were all thrown together into a massive Mod-esque jumble. Let's take a closer look and focus on just a few problems going on here:
  1. Braces over that nice monochromatic shirt with the contrasting cuff and collar. Yes, I know this guy's ahead of his time, foreshadowing the oncoming skinhead look. And yeah, he's a bit early for Slade auditions, but those braces with that shirt just do NOT work. Takes your eyes off the contrasting tones of the shirt. (Plus, it's a little tight, but who am I to say anything about that?)
  2. Okay, I don't know what the heck's going on here. Was the tailor going too far in trying to buck the low-rise trend of the time? Or did he just get lazy after realizing he didn't get his hipster measurements right? Maybe he couldn't find a zipper long enough for the trousers and just convinced this poor kid to tighten his belt just a little tighter. He probably thought that extra material up on top might lead to a new fashion trend. Thankfully, it didn't.
  3. You might have to zoom in a little closer on this one. Interesting idea that I think works on other items of clothing, but the hoop zipper just doesn't work on men's trousers. I can just picture this kid getting stuck on a crowded tube train and that hoop getting caught on something on his way off. Yikes! Plus, those trousers need some belt loops and a nice, wide belt.
  4. Oh boy... looks like someone was getting ready for work as a costume designer on U.F.O., am I right? This kid almost had a cool look down, with that smart, button-down shirt and a pinkie ring. The color of the trousers looks great too... but, doh! Those trousers just keep going on and on, into futuristic overall territory.  
No, I'm not going to get into the matching plaid trousers some of these guys are wearing. Plaid trousers are hard to pull off for anyone, but when it is accomplished, it can be a great, casual look. Unfortunately, these guys tried two too many times to get it right.

But you know what? The Beatstalkers prove that you can't judge a book by its cover. Sure, they might have been embarrassed shortly after this photo went out to all the local music papers of the time. And sure, they might have complained to their manager, "Hey, we thought you said you'd make us look like the Small Faces? This doesn't look like the Small Faces!" But no matter what mistakes they made fashion-wise, they still knew how to rock out.

Forgive the Beatstalkers their clothing errors and dig the sounds they knew how to lay down:


  1. two things really , do you actually know what a mod was and secondly,why do you assume that the Beatstalkers,one of Scotlands best at the time,were actually mods,when quite clearly you can see they were just taking part in the flamoyant dandy/Kings Road fashion that appealed to every teenagers except mods and rockers?
    The mod of the 60's were Spartan,masculine and sharp in comparison to the dress code above and had made it perfectly obvious that they wanted no part of mainstream fashion. The crass Dandy or Buck was as much an alien to a true mod as the rocker was.

  2. Oh here we go with another masculine swirlie basher with the overheard mantra. So boring it kills my balls. I dig as by usual ur article carlos, though i d except that glasgow was far away in many ways fron where the action was and that in my just personal and humble opinion the beatstalkers were unexceptional as for the music. but as said it s just personal...

  3. The overheard mantra? My question was 'does the writer know what a mod was ?.A reasonable question considering I was one in 1964 and am interested in the mass assumption that the 'mod' actually shopped at Carnaby Street or the Kings Road,when in reality we bought our clothes at the Petticoat Lane's of this world or small & chain tailors.
    If a person wants to write a blog on 'modness',it wouldn't be a bad idea to research the subject properly and not fall into this modern impression that people with long hair , a desire to be an exibitionist and the need to follow mainstream fashion to replicate pop stars were actually called mods or even had any remote connection.
    As for 'swirley bashing' (I take it you mean the buck,dandy,freak,gimpie ?), 1966 to 1967 was a good year to find these 'flocks' of middle class pretenders on their way home from colleges and universities.
    The majority of genuine mods of my generation find the connection with popsters and efeminate boppers rather foolish , almost as much as the connection adopted by Paul Weller fans of 1979, a reproduction is still and always be a copy of an original, a bad copy will be neither,whatever it's misinformed name.

  4. Though I always thought their gear was a bit hideous I think it must've taken a hard man to wear that sort of gear in Glasgow in the 60's. I've seen a pic of Birds Birds in late '66 where there's a braces and two tone shirt thing going on too. If you have an opinion start a blog, like Carlos has done.

    1. I've got an opinion mate,that's why I'm typing,if I wrote a blog,I'd be just the same as everyone else,that in itself is something very anti-mod ,CONFORMITY .
      If you speak to any real ones (I believe we're now called 'gang mods' or 'beach thugs')lol.

  5. Too much anonymity in the commenting section btw....

  6. Well, first off, you need to remember (especially if you were there) that the term 'mod' changed from the early '60s to the mid/late '60s.

    Yes, 'mod' originally referred to the sharp-dressed youth of the early '60s. But, by the mid-sixties, 'mod' had become an umbrella adjective to describe that whole Carnaby Street scene, whether you agreed with that use or not. And that whole 'mod' period influenced not just British youth, but youth outside of the country. That's why you had bands like the Modbeats in Canada (thanks Parka Avenue!), U.S. culture going "stark raving mod" during that time, etc.

    Personally, I dig the Beatstalkers and this photo is pretty much just one bad one of them. It shows the excesses of fashion that were influenced by that Swinging London scene of the mid-sixties which, sorry, was referred to as 'mod' much to the chagrin of the originals.

    And if you were a mod in 1964, I'm sure the early modernists may have had a different view of how their culture had been hi-jacked by the Brighton Beach thugs of that period. Yet, those thugs are what most people think of when they hear the term 'mod.'

    1. Where do you get your imformation about mods,yet another 'experts' book or perhaps the genius of yet an Eddie Piller ?
      I'm a reasonably intelligent person and have been araound the block a few times , but the word Modernist had little meaning to 16 year old kids riding around on scooters trying to pull a bird or two to go dancing in a Lacarno or local dance hall.I know what people assume they were and how we , the mods were supposed to be influenced by these cool guys that got off to the easy listening skills of Georgie Fame and other fairly square jazzmen like Acker Bilk lol.
      I'm pretty certain you weren't anywhere near Brighton in the 60's because you would've known that beach fighting had virtually died the death after a year or two and had become a meeting place for mods from London & the Home Counties.The beach thugs stole the modernists identity , sorry , you've lost your way,the Jazz Club's were a million miles away from the generation the mod came from , culturally and financially.Social history is a wonderfull thing untill it's put into the hands of fools looking to make things convenient.I may write a blog on WWII , I wasn't there,but I'm sure there are enough books around for me to make it look as though I was lol

    2. Hm. Then unfortunately, there's nowhere left to go with this. Seems your personal experience trumps anyone who came before you, anyone who's come after you, and anywhere who wasn't near Brighton.

      Too bad really, because you'd find a lot of either similar or even dissenting opinions on what mod life was like from actual '60s mods on that Facebook forum or even

      Heck, go check out for actual '60s mod memories as well. They may not be the same as yours but valid just the same.

    3. One other thing, to keep this positive, I'm sure there are many others out there who'd probably like reading about your personal memories on the subject. Minus the chip, of course.

    4. I belong to a private Facebook forum and a public one also , I'm not trying to trump anyone either,I've read many 'personal experience' blogs , some very genuine and many just over exagerated attempts by the individual to gain some kudos,(those individuals usually get found out lol).
      But one thing I have found over the last few years is how the interpretation of mod has been changed , it appears the mods never died,they just hid for a decade and re-appeared in 1979 , Carnaby Street was the home of the mod,when in reality it was just a tourist spot for foreigners in the 80's because my office on Regent Street overlooked it. When someone decided Mod had become a fashion , rather than a statement of dissent by a generation of post WWII teenagers,it's whole genre became marketable and viable for the fashion industry to make money again.
      My personal experiences are well documented in several 60's videos,pics and postings on the net over the last 5 years.there isn't a mention of Georgie Fame or Miles Davies , just regional un-mod pop groups like The Beatstalkers ,The Act and John Mayall's Bluebreakers because he wasn't fashionable.You know how it is , once an antagonistic beach thug , always one , we could never be associated with a man in paisley that shops at Lord John's lol.

    5. By the way , the 'chip' was a very important part of us gang,Beach Thug,Scooter Mods,that's what made us diferent to the rest.The Mods , the guys with the chip that are still trying to tell the onlookers that they had no idea what it was all about,that's why we were so popular. lol

    6. 'And if you were a mod in 1964, I'm sure the early modernists may have had a different view of how their culture had been hi-jacked by the Brighton Beach thugs of that period. Yet, those thugs are what most people think of when they hear the term 'mod.'

      The more I read this quotation from this alleegd student of Modology for 25 years,the more offensive it becomes to me. Where did you get your information on these Modermists we hijacked ? Who were these people ? My sister and brother both 3-4 years older than me , very stylish in their time and also regular club goers,believed the modernists were actually just beatnicks that hung around coffee bars ,listening to jazz and writing poetry, myself? I don't ever recall seeing one of these inspiraitional characters,never mind emulating them.
      Personally I had a face to face with a Weller lookalike in his 40's , who,like you also claimed
      he was a historian and spouted the same nonsense that you are , but did add the much cliche's 'evolvement' into his repetoir lol.
      As a beach thug , with a chip , I'm interested in your own personal motivation , are you just yet another clothes horse or Macaroni impersonator,or do you actually believe that in your self gratifictional 'blogging' , you are actually an authority on the subject?
      Beach thug eh ?. a tad personal methinks , and a little provocative to say the least. WE look forward to reading more from you on this resentfull personal view of our pasts.

    7. Wow... Carlos, I don't think there's any point in continuing the debate with this guy. I was going to write a long response but I see that it is futile.

      Apparently, his view is the only one that counts even if there's substantial 60s accounts of the contrary. (Please, this isn't an invitation for debate)

      Keep up the great work. A lot of us enjoy reading you every week in the lighthearted way it is intended to be read. It's really easy to write under the umbrella of an anonymous keyboard. At least you have the courage of exposing yourself to dissenting views.

      And if "having a chip" and using deck chairs as weapons is a prerequisite for being a Mod then count me officially out.

    8. Well Patrick,seeing as I don't need an invitation to reply to you , I will. I see you wear a parka , is that a tribute to the revivalists of the 80's or a homage to us beach thugs who used them as bedspreads? Maybe it's just something to keep dry on your scooter? lol Don't worry yourself about being counted out , you were never included by us anyway ,we didn't think John Steed was cool lol

    9. Comment read. Will bow out gracefully.

  7. Bill, I figured I'd wait to change the anonymous settings until I started getting sex spam comments.

    Darn it... I guess I should change it now just so people can represent who they are... but it'll have to wait until I read more about what a 'mod' is.

  8. Anonymous has some good points, assuming it's true that he was actually there. If I understand him correctly (and correct me if I'm wrong whoever wrote in), there's a class-conflict message. Early mods are equated with masculinity in a no-nonsense, blue collar tough guy kind of way. The later group are middle-class wimpy fashion plates who just blindly follow fashion whatever it is. The fashion designers of the time latched onto the street fashion of mod but dandied/priced it up.

    But I get nervous when I here words like "effeminate" bandied about. It not only smacks of homophobia, but it also pushes to the side the undeniable influence that gay culture had on the tailors of the late50s/early60s in London. And frankly, it can make anyone, 1964 hard mod or not, sound like a redneck. And to me, redneck is the opposite of what I like about mod culture.

    Having said that, 50 years of water under the bridge does kind of lump things together in a way that would seem ludicrous to someone who was actually seriously living the life at the time. So I totally get that. Again, I welcome being corrected if you think I'm talking out my arse.

    Personally, the dandy 1966 version of mod is my favorite, but I'm a middle class guy who went to university ;)

    1. The word 'effeminate' was used by most people at that time , it didn't have the homosexual undertones from our generation,it just meant they were dressed like girls in comparisson to us (Ivy Leaguers'lol , I only discovered that a couple of years ago lol to us they were just a mid 60's harmony pop group and not the alleged American homosexuality certainly disgusted our parents view,remember,it was illegal to be a homosexual at that time and we,just as your generation had strong views,ours were just the opposite,That doesn't make you right,it didn't make us wrong (despite how you judge us now),it was just how it was.I digress though.....
      I was a genuine mod,based in West London (a few mins walk from Lord Kitcheners Valet before it moved Up west ) and like many of my ilk , used to laugh at the chocolate soldiers of the middle classes as they tried to emulate their pop idols,the Jane Asher/s and David Hemmings's of that world had nothing in common with the everyday rebelious teenagers of the uniformed mod.
      You're not talking out of your arse by the way,you amke some good points,I (although not a redneck lol) am an architect,a home owner and have worked on 3 Continents in my lifetime,that in itself shows that,(although I still have the same chip on my shoulder lol) ,we had a little more intelligence than the media gave us,the very media that named us the mods after our beach exploits,myself being present at many over the period 64 to 70. it should be noted that at no point did we ever call ourselves mods , that's what the others called us.;-) Not forgetting the 'Straights' , those non commital guys that were later called the Mockers or Tweenies , there are plenty of those guys wanting to be included under the mod umbrella it seems lol they didn't when it mattered of course.

    2. sorry , there's a piece missing on the Ivy League statement,should read....
      The word 'effeminate' was used by most people at that time , it didn't have the homosexual undertones from our generation,it just meant they were dressed like girls in comparisson to us (Ivy Leaguers'lol , I only discovered that a couple of years ago lol to us they were just a mid 60's harmony pop group and not the alleged wealthy American University students from their upper classes......

    3. Anonymous, just a side note: are you on the Original Modernists group on Facebook? You might already be, but if not, get on there!

      Lots of great posts, discussions, even arguments on what was going on at the time, by 'original' mods/modernists.

    4. No thanks , if it's got 'Modernist' in the heading , it says what it is , something we had little to do with or just a creation of a later generation that are either looking for a journalistic connected history or revivalists seeking credibility among their peers.

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. "Chocolate Solider" does indeed sound like the title of some imaginary Kinks song circa 1966 lol. I don't think they considered themselves mods, but they were indeed on RSG

    7. That's what those guys always reminded me of strutting out of Lord Kitcheners (without the tinfoil) lol We must've been very pale in comparison with our regulation pinstriped shirts and trim flat fronted trousers, very militaristic in a diferent way to the Georgian/Victorian , but a uniform all the same.;-). But you're correct,there must've been an opportunity for a Chocolate Soldier track on someones LP , perhaps Ogdens or Introspection , maybe Whistling Jack Smith could've lasted more than a few months if he'd have known ;-)

  9. Agent00Soul, I agree with a lot of your comments here, but might have to disagree on one thing.

    I think the 1965 period is probably my favorite. Aww... who am I kidding? I absolutely LOVE 1966 fashions!

  10. There you go , you love 1966 fashions....for the mod,it was virtually the same as the 1969 suedehead. You should've followed a fashion that didn't change with every episode of RSG and what Ringo was wearing that week, it would've been cheaperand certainly more classic. lol

  11. I met an 'original Mod' recently. You can read all about it here:
    There are also memories of old skinheads and suede heads, too. All kosher.

  12. Johnny, I just had a real quick look at your site. Unfortunately, I don't have much time now, but I plan on spending this weekend catching up on your posts! Interesting stuff on there!

    Thanks for sharing!